Can Christie Effectively Govern New Jersey While Campaigning?
New Jersey's top Democrats in the Legislature say they have concerns about whether or not Gov. Chris Christie will be able to effectively govern the state while on the campaign trail, but they concede that only time will tell if their fears will be realized.
"Once you're elected to a position you either do it to the best of your ability or you go on your way. Time will tell if he (Christie) will lose focus or not," said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus).
There is some merit to the argument that we are in the 21st Century and technology would allow the governor to say in touch with decision makers in the Garden State while he is campaigning for president, but face-to-face meetings are very important according to Prieto.
"You have to look each other in the eye and sit around a room and try and get things accomplished," he said.
It doesn't matter to State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) that Christie will be out-of-state so often as long as progress back in the Garden State is not impeded.
"If there are people behind that can give answers and make decisions then we'll proceed how we have for the last year. He wasn't around a whole lot this year so as long as we can get things done, that's all that matters to me," said Sweeney. "We here in New Jersey are left to deal with a lot of the issues like the TTF (Transportation Trust Fund), higher education and pensions and they don't go away because he's running for president."
At a State House press conference in late June, the day before Christie officially launched his presidential campaign, Sweeney was asked if he would encourage the governor to step down in order to focus on his campaign full time.
"Do you think he'd listen? What's the sense?" he responded.
A poll released by Monmouth University on July 2 revealed that 71 percent of New Jersey residents did not believe Christie could effectively govern the state and run for president at the same time.
Other findings in the Monmouth University poll included:
- 69 percent of New Jersey residents said Christie would not make a good president;
- 76 percent thought he was more concerned with his political future than he was in governing the state;
- 56 percent said he has abandoned his commitment to New Jersey; and
- 57 percent felt Christie should resign as governor now.
At least for the time being, Sweeney and Prieto were willing to give Christie the benefit of the doubt, but that could change quickly.